The Rest of Love
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The Rest of Love

by Carl Phillips

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Striking new poems from a writer whose "lyric gift . . . outstrips all diversionary maneuvers." (Carol Moldaw, The Antioch Review)

The light, for as far as
I can see, is that of any number of late

afternoons I remember still: how the light
seemed a bell; how it seemed I'd been living
insider it, waiting


Striking new poems from a writer whose "lyric gift . . . outstrips all diversionary maneuvers." (Carol Moldaw, The Antioch Review)

The light, for as far as
I can see, is that of any number of late

afternoons I remember still: how the light
seemed a bell; how it seemed I'd been living
insider it, waiting - I'd heard all about

that one clear note it gives.
--from "Late Apollo III"

In The Rest of Love, his seventh book, Carl Phillips examines the conflict between belief and disbelief, and our will to believe: Aren't we always trying, Phillips asks, to contain or to stave off facing up to, even briefly, the hard truths we're nevertheless attracted to? Phillips's signature terse line and syntax enact this constant tension between abandon and control; following his impeccable interior logic, "passionately austere" (Rita Dove, The Washington Post Book World), Phillips plumbs the myths we make and return to in the name of desire-physical, emotional, and spiritual.

The Rest of Love is a 2004 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[Phillips achieves] a delicately cadenced music entirely his own.” —Roger Gilbert, Michigan Quarterly Review
The New York Times
The best poems in The Rest of Love are, appropriately enough, love poems. As a suitor, Phillips doesn't really do sweet and earnest; instead, he's more likely to give us the swirling, hot-and-cold drama of love at its most fraught (in this, as in some of his phrasing, Phillips seems to have been taking notes from the current poet laureate, Louise Gluck). Like Donne, Phillips mixes the divine with the beloved and, in accordance with his interest in control, throws in a suggestion of S-and-M to boot. — David Orr
Publishers Weekly
Furthering an idiom worked up over six previous books and showing no signs of exhaustion, Phillips delivers another brittle, electric set of poems on love, sex, masculinity and their classical contours. In 33 lyrics divided over three sections, Phillips's unmistakable, short-lined apostrophes, riddled with exhalative em-dashes and pulled-up-short interrogatives, perform the kind of personal control that, before The Tether, would have been a main component of domination, but has slowly modulated into conscious attempts at sharing one's physical and psychic lives fully-or as fully as possible: "to what extent can this be said, and/ it be true? and/ it be false?/ Under what conditions?// Under whose conditions?" Phillips finds a series of images, from "White Dog" ("First snow-I release her into it-") to a donkey in Santiago ("He shot the ass/ in the head. Simple.") to "the boy at the bow" of a sculling crew ("the rest of the boys/ sang back"), and works each singly and satisfyingly. And as with Phillips's other recent work, while the poems do not form a series, they seem to provide multiple and overlapping accounts of the title's excess (or its repose) without trying to define it. The result will not only please fans, but will send new readers back to recent books, which may be accumulating more quickly than they can be absorbed. (Feb.) FYI: Out this month from Phillips is a verse translation of the lesser-known Sophocles drama Philoctetes, in which a shipmate of Odyseus is charged with beguiling an abandoned soldier into joining in the siege of Troy. It's an immediate and excellent (if formally idiosyncratic) rendering from the Greek, and it features a cogent introduction by Phillips, a classicist at Washington University in St. Louis. (Oxford, $10.95 paper 118p ISBN 0-19-513657-8) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's appropriate that this book is being published in deep midwinter, for it is pervaded by the sense of loss and melancholy often associated with that season. "And you a stone/ marked Gone Already-you/ a leaf,/ marked Spattered Milk," observes the narrator of one poem as he leans against a window's "old" glass and watches an approaching storm. Phillips, whose most recent book, The Tether, won the Kingslsey Tufts Poetry Award, is known for evanescent lines that practically float off the page like smoke. Here, he's a little less elliptical than in The Tether-some poems, like "Hymns and Fragments," are almost narrative-but the musing tone remains. As always, Phillips's poems breathe quietude, but despite the wintry tone he seems ready for a reckoning, facing up to a traitorous world ("Any force-/ generosity, sudden updraft. Fear") and wrestling politely with God ("I wagered on God in a kind stranger"). The results are polished and penetrating. Buy wherever contemporary poetry is collected.-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.19(d)

Meet the Author

Carl Phillips is the author of six previous books of poems, including Rock Harbor and The Tether, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. The recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, he teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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